The fights picked with organized labor by the Republican governors of Wisconsin and Ohio are coming back to haunt Mitt Romney in the final days of the presidential race, unions say.
Labor groups say their internal polling shows labor support for President Obama in the all-important battleground state of Ohio and the electoral vote cash cow of Wisconsin is as high or higher than it was in 2008. They attribute the numbers to residual fallout from the 2011 SB 5 collective bargaining fight in Ohio and the Wisconsin battle between labor unions and Gov. Scott Walker.
The biggest effect may be in Ohio, where Democrats and labor beat back SB 5 at the ballot box following the anti-collective bargaining law’s passage by the Republican-controlled state legislature and Gov. John Kasich. Internal numbers from AFSCME show an increase in union household support for Obama in Ohio in the upcoming election versus internal polling from 2008.
Ohio progressive blog Plunderbund first reported the AFSCME Ohio numbers Saturday:
AFSCME Polling numbers show Obama leading Romney 59/36 (+23) with union households this year, compared to 55/39 (+16) in 2008.
AFSCME’s numbers out of Wisconsin are less pronounced. Internal polling conducted Oct. 21 and shared with TPM showed Obama leading union households in the Badger State by a margin of 69-26 versus Romney. In the union’s 2008 poll, Obama won union households by a margin of 68-30 vs John McCain.
Polling from labor PAC Worker’s Voice shows Obama approaching his 2008 exit poll totals among union voters in Wisconsin and Ohio. The group says the union fights in both states have boosted support for Democrats among GOP-leaning union members, as well as helped labor build out election infrastructure in both states much earlier than usual.
“From a mechanics stand point we’ve had our full field operation set up and running in those places for years, instead of just setting up for election,” Worker’s Voice spokesperson Eddie Vale told TPM. Union voters who are more likely to be Republicans in police, fire building trades and teaching are turned off after the state battles, Vale said.
“Attacks on collective bargaining pushed them away from Republicans, who they supported in the past,” Vale said.
AFSCME is confident their polling shows Romney suffering from the anti-collective bargaining effort led by Republican governors.
“Walker awoke a sleeping giant in Wisconsin, and Kasich kicked the hornet’s nest in Ohio when they tried to take away the rights of the hard working men and women of Wisconsin and Ohio,” union spokesperson Chris Fleming told TPM. “Members are more energized, more engaged and more enthusiastic than ever before.”
Team Romney may have anticipated that the SB5 fight could prove to be a problem. Romney initially tried to steer clear of taking sides in the fight to repeal the law last November before finally standing with Kasich and the Republicans in support of the law. If the labor polls are correct, Romney was right to worry.
But Republicans also say the collective bargaining fights of 2011 helped them. Republicans and their allies built out a massive infrastructure that helped them handily defeat labor and Democrats in the recall attempt against Walker in Wisconsin. The pro-Walker groups promised to keep their forces in place for the general election. The PollTracker Average shows Obama leading the state by a margin of 49.6-44.6.
Labor voters are of course expected to go Obama’s way in aggregate. But if the Republican-leaning union voters Romney may have hoped for in Ohio end up flipping to Obama because of SB5, labor will have a lot to crow about.